Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Second Advisor

Barbara E. Luedtke

Third Advisor

Jonathan N. Chu


This is a material culture study that examines the gravestones from the burial ground (1722-1948) of the Society of Friends from Lynn, Massachusetts. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the physical data provided by the 205 extant gravestones and to determine whether recognized historical interpretations are substantiated or contradicted by the material culture.

This study follows the revisionists' perspective of historical archaeologists and material culture analysts. A systematic inventory establishes a standard for Quaker gravestone form and style based on the identification and analysis of these factors: physical dimensions, presence/absence of engraving, presence/absence of decoration in motif or stone form and the presence/absence of traditional Quaker notation of date. Deviation from the standard is considered significant and analyzed as an expression of disagreement with Quaker tradition.

Accounts of the historical growth of the Lynn Quaker community and specific episodes of controversy in 1822 are examined to determine their degree of correspondence with the evidence from the material culture. The physical data is startlingly unexpected and apparently contradictory, for the gravestones of the reform-minded New Light Quakers do not demonstrate their dissenting viewpoint which called for a return to more traditional ways. The gravestone inventory fails to support the current understanding of the New Light conflict within local history. The central concern of this study establishes the discrepancy between data from documentary sources and material culture and explores its source.


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